Tariff woes complicate apple season.

By Rosemary Weber :: September 30, 2019

In a bumper year of apple production, the Gala will reign supreme, beating out the champion Red Delicious to become Washington State’s top apple! Estimates for the entire crop start conservatively at 136 million boxes and run all the way up to 165 million boxes for the year, a significant bump from last year’s 116 million cartons. While most apple varieties are seeing a better crop, Honeycrisp apples are up 24% over 2018 numbers.

With last year’s smaller crop, the apples from 2018-2019 inventory will be gone from cold storage when the new harvest comes in. This is good news for a commodity that’s under pressure from tariffs. As China and India react to trade issues with the US, growers are concerned about where demand will fall. Yet even with the drops in the number of boxes shipped, (down a staggering 67%)  India and US officials do not plan to discuss lowering the tariffs until after the holidays. Sadly, India isn’t the only market seeing a significant drop; Saudi Arabia is down 32%; UAE down 57%; China is down 24%; and Mexico is down 11%.

With the decreases come some new market opportunities as Vietnam and Thailand are buying more apples. This year we will have a sizable crop with exceptional quality and excellent marketing potential. Great weather, despite a later spring than expected, facilitated a very large crop that will carry through the export season. Though we don’t have a complete picture of the harvest until December, growers are very positive and demand for the varietals grown in Washington continues to climb.

 Thanks to CFI’s increasing growth in sea freight and leveraging Kuehne + Nagel’s buying power means that apple and other produce shippers moving in containers can secure great pricing and space. As a member of the Kuehne + Nagel family, we have much greater access to refrigerated knowledge, experience, equipment, space and purchasing power.